Multiple Religious Verses. A fascinating early 18th century two handed 30-hour religious versed wall clock by John Sanderson of Wigton. Photograph by Lee Borrett
Religious Wall Clock
Illustrated here is a fascinating early 18th century two handed 30-hour religious versed wall clock by John Sanderson of Wigton, which was made between around c1710-c1715. The nine inch solid-sheet brass dial with square box date calendar has an applied chapter ring with floating fleur-de-lis half hour markers and is signed John Sanderson, Wigton Fecit. The deeply engraved multiple religious verses to the dial are particularly interesting. Although the verses are different to each other, they are all warning us that man should be mindful of death and repent his sins before it’s too late! The verses from left to right and across the top of dial read: - ‘ Our days and years here will Quickly spend, Eternity will come that has no end. The verse to the dial centre reads ‘As time and clock and all things pass a way, A mend your lives for here wee must not stay’. To the bottom left hand corner the verse reads ‘ Esto Memor Mortis’ and to the bottom right hand corner it reads ‘ Libile Tempus a bit ‘.
Above Showing the fabulous nine in dial of the religious versed wall clock by John Sanderson c1710. Photograph by Lee Borrett
Above The verse to the dial centre reads ‘As time and clock and all things pass a way, A mend your lives for here wee must not stay’ Photograph by Lee Borrett
Above and Below images read:- The verses from left to right and across the top of dial read: - ‘ Our days and years here will Quickly spend, Eternity will come that has no end. Photograph by Lee Borrett
Below image reads:- To the bottom left hand corner the verse reads ‘ Esto Memor Mortis’ Photograph by Lee Borrett
Below image reads:- to the bottom right hand corner it reads 'Libile Tempus a bit' Photograph by Lee Borrett
Below. Signed John Sanderson Wigton, Fecit . Photograph by Lee Borrett
The large, heavily built brass and iron Sanderson movement with lantern-style turned brass pillars has some typical features that are often found on early John Sanderson clocks including the large and very distinctive pyramid shaped back cock and the way the dial is attached to the movement by way of two upper pins to the middle of the top plate and a lower lug fixed central to the bottom plate. The movement has survived in a very original and complete condition throughout including its wheel-work and brass collets.
Above. Showing a rear view of the John Sanderson religious wall clock. Photograph by Lee Borrett
Below. The movement has survived in a very original and complete condition throughout including its wheel-work and brass collets. Photograph by Lee Borrett
Below. Showing a close-up of the top-plate. Photograph by Lee Borrett
Originally the clock probably sat on a simple wooden wall bracket. It now sits on a later but interesting pair of old custom made antique iron wall brackets attatched to an oak backboard and probably made for the clock by a previous owner.
Above and Below images. Showing the John Sanderson religious wall clock sitting on it's interesting antique iron wall brackets which are attatched to a later oak backboard. Photograph by Lee Borrett
It is thought that Sanderson sold many of his early 30-hour clocks with the brass lantern style pillars at the local marketplace in wigton and surrounding areas including even as far as Edinburgh with a view that the new owners could either use them as wall on bracket clocks (showing off the lantern style brass pillars) and keeping the price down. Alternatively, they could house the clock in a wooden case straight away or at some time in the future when they could afford to. From my own experiences in collecting them I think that apart from a few cases the vast majority of Sanderson’s early religious versed 30-hour clocks with the lantern style movements were probably used as wall clocks initially and then some of these were either housed later in a new case, styled in the then fashion of the day, or like other examples found today - which have been at some time in their life adapted to a previously occupied case (married up). However, when collecting these early Wigton clocks this is all part of their natural history through the passage of time and ownership and I do not view this in a negative way.
In summary this is a very desirable John Sanderson Wall clock. Sanderson would have been well known for using his clocks to spread the word of God. I think it’s likely that this was a specially made wall clock in its day - custom made by Sanderson for a certain individual or family from the Wigton area who had very strong religious beliefs and this would explain why almost the entire dial is covered in multiple religious verses. By 1715 Sanderson was mostly using 11 and 12 inch cartwheel type dials on his clocks so to find an example with a solid dial of just over 9 inches square at this period is very unusual and again for me points to it being a one-off, purpose made clock rather than just being made to the fashion of the day - and sold at a market place - as we know Sanderson did!
John Sanderson was born in 1671 and was brought up at Tiffinthwaite Farm (near Wigton) where his father Robert was the blacksmith and they probably lived in the outbuildings on the farmland. It is believed that he may have served an apprenticeship under the Quaker Clockmaker John Ogden at Bowbridge in Yorkshire during the 1680s. He was back living and working as a Clockmaker at Tiffinthwaite from about 1690.
Brian Loomes is the authority on John Sanderson. His book 'Brass Dial Clocks' has a whole chapter on The Wigton School. This book is a must for collectors interested in this subject. Much of the above information on 'The Wigton School' was taken from the book, along with an article written for Clocks Magazine of April 2006, also by Brian Loomes. I have however included additional information on clocks and newly discovered makers that have come to light since the book was first published, along with my own opinions on the subject!